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Friday, February 24, 2017



     America has just come out of a long, contentious election cycle and I'm pretty sure I speak for most of America and the rest of the world when I say, "Holy crap I need a shower." I wish the election cycle had just gotten up and pedaled itself into a tree somewhere far away from me. For some, the wounds are deep, and it may seem a little too soon to laugh about things. But history has yanked us down this road by our hair before, and the sooner you get up and dust yourself off, the better. So America, after all that's been said, yelled, implied and alleged, what have we learned for next time?

     Well, we learned that political campaigns are like Oprah's Give-O-Way days. Hillary says she will be giving free health care! Paid sick leave! Donald says he will do away with taxes! A brand new free wall! Actually an Amazon gift card would be even better, and if it's worth enough I am willing to vote twice. Political campaigns are like winning a new car on a game show, but when you get the bill for the gift tax a sound comes out of you like you sat on your cat.

     We learned NOT to say anything in an email that you wouldn't want Russian or Chinese hackers to read. Sometimes buried in my email I put a little something about how I don't like MSG in my Chinese food because it makes me sleepy, or how I wish Russia would annex my garage so I won't have to clean it. Actually, I just c.c. everything to China and Russia these days. In case St. Lucia has hackers, I write at the bottom of every email that I love to snorkel. If you have something top secret to say that you don't want everyone to know about, for god's sake whisper it in their ear after dinner. And give them a little kiss too, it couldn't hurt.

     We learned that it's okay to "double down" on indefensible positions, even if it makes you look twice as stupid.

     We learned that just about everything is rigged. I went on a sailboat to get away from it all, and even that was rigged.

     We learned that if someone tells you that he is a brilliant military strategist specializing in the area of the Middle East, you should probably believe them. Especially of the cornerstone of their foreign policy is to "Knock the hell out of ISIS, folks. Right?" A panel of experts have also issued a position paper on the subject, stating, "Duh."

     We learned what a pussy bow shirt is, and I must say that it's not a very good look. I also never knew that a pussy-cat had a bow and a stern in the first place, which is something I will have to confirm with my cat.

     We learned that it may be impractical to put a wall around the United States to keep illegal immigrants out. First of all, China put up a huge wall, you can even see it from outer space if you squint, and there are still people from other countries in China. Secondly, the same guy who wanted to build the wall to keep people out also wanted to deport millions of people who were already here. So you would have to bus all those people out, and then hurry up and build the wall before they came back. Thirdly, good luck even finding a contractor to return your calls. I know this because we wanted to build a wall, MUCH smaller, and it took us about a year just to find someone who didn't just laugh uncontrollably before hanging up the phone.

     But regardless of the outcome of ANY election, we must find a way to come together as a country and respect each others views, no matter how idiotic yours are. In the words of the great Alexander Hamilton, "Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot!" Actually, that was from the musical, but I'm sure the real Hamilton said something just as good, although I doubt he could break-dance while saying it. I'm Rick MelĂ©n and I approve this message.

Friday, February 17, 2017



     Our dog Gidget was thrilled to find a deer antler in the woods, and she brought it home to play with. If the deer had still been attached to it I would have been much less enthusiastic about the idea. We looked it up on the internet and it's okay to give it to your dog as a teething toy, as long as you boil it in water first. My wife added a bay leaf for whatever reason she usually does.

     There is a whole market of barbaric-sounding animal body parts out there, sold as doggie chew toys: cow's hooves, and pig's ears and parts of bulls. The package doesn't say which part of the bull, and I don't ask. You can get "giant turkey feet" for your dog, if your dog is not satisfied with its own feet. The ad boasts that they are "USA giant turkeys," so no American turkey foot harvesting jobs are in jeopardy from this enterprise. You can have them delivered from Amazon, or they can just stroll over.

     We went into a pet store and found all kinds of weird things for your dog, like fish cartilage. What is a fish doing with all that spare cartilage, and I don't even have enough for my knee not to hurt three days after a tennis match? Which I probably lost? There was a bone made from yak's milk. Somebody is out there in Tibet milking a yak in the freezing rain so that your dog can have a yak's milk bone, I hope you're happy. There was also a 12-inch rib that looked fairly disgusting, it didn't say what animal it came from. When Gidget wants to play she pokes you in the leg with her toy. Have you ever been gored in the leg with a deer antler? It's pretty much the same drill if a deer wants to play with you.

     The cat is another teething toy at our house. The dog likes to chew on his ears, and he doesn't seem to mind that much. But it seems to be affecting his hearing, since he ignores even the most basic requests. "Hey, YOU- don't keep knocking that pen off the table! And don't stretch out on the newspaper!" I'm so tired of reading stories in the paper and trying to guess all the words that are in the shape of a cat.

     Is this all a waste of time and money? Yes. The other day I saw that she was chewing on... an expensive dog toy? A carefully selected bone? No, a pushpin from the bulletin board. I took it out of her mouth, and returned it to the bulletin board along with a memorandum reminding everyone in the household that chewing on pushpins can result in personal injury, especially when I whack them on the nose with a newspaper. When I can finally get the cat off it.

     Gidget is just not that discerning when it comes to toys. On our walk we ran into a toad on the lawn that she was extremely interested in starting a relationship with. I knew it wasn't going to come to much because I had read the book, "That Toad is Just Not That Into You." On the way back from our walk she wanted to rekindle the romance with a pine cone, thinking it was the toad. Gidget might not be the brightest dog on the planet, but she and the pine cone seem to have a nice thing going, and I'm not going to stand in the way of the relationship.

Friday, February 10, 2017



     There are some who will say that when you reach a certain age you are "too old" for Halloween. To these people I say, "I know you are, but what am I?" I also say that we adults should do it for the kids. When I am reminded that I have no children, that's when I have to come clean. I do it for the candy. That's right, the CANDY. Are you happy now?

     Me and the candy industry are in this together. How else am I going to get my wife to buy three bags of candy? We go through the usual song and dance where she says she's not getting any candy this year because we never have any trick-or-treaters. "This year is different," I reply, "because of the economy. So many children are going hungry this year. How can we just forget them? How can we turn them away? Some of them are probably orphans. We must act. We must lead. This is our moment." Then I plagiarize parts of a Melania Trump speech that she already stole from "Finding Nemo." We compromise on two bags of candy. I take Gidget the dog out in her costume and go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.

     My favorites are Twix bars, Milky Ways, Kit Kat bars, Snickers and my new favorite, the Take 5 bar. Gidget likes chocolate-covered bacon. Don't try to pawn off on me the crappy candy that you don't like, things with coconut, or raisins or licorice. I don't want to fill up with a whole lot of empty calories, i.e. anything that does not contain chocolate. And if you give me an apple or any form of fruit, I am not "too old" to throw it at your mailbox.

     I would say that it's all harmless fun, except that every year I sustain some sort of costume-related injury trying to sew a llama head to a sweatshirt or attach chicken wire to something other than a chicken. Or, once the costume is on me I forget that I need to see through it, and trip over something, or someone who suffered from the exact same oversight of undersight.

     What were you for Halloween? Write and tell me. I went to Jenn and Pete's party dressed as a Basket of Deplorables. For my Deplorables I had pictures of Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Moammar Khadhafi (or is it Gaddafi? Qadhafi? The guy's spelling is even deplorable), Genghis Khan, Bernie Madoff, O.J. Simpson and Mao Tse Tung. I also threw in Tom Brady and my cat Bitey, whose behavior was certainly deplorable.

     My box was only so big, and there are a lot of miscreants I left out. Like the person who first tweeted "I feel you," or people and bears on television commercials who feel the need to share with me exactly what they do with toilet paper, or whoever wrote the song, "My Humps." And by the way, quit feeling me. While I was at work, cutting out pictures of Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and Fidel Castro to put in my basket, I noticed some of my co-workers looking for the telephone number for Security in the company directory.

     There were some people at parties dressed as Donald Trump this year, including Donald Trump. These people were wearing wigs that weren't even close to the ungainly reality of his hair, which defies laws of fashion and laws of physics at the same time. I was thinking of including Trump in my Basket of Deplorables, but I knew that he would immediately try to take credit for my costume, then call me a disaster if things went horribly wrong.

Friday, February 3, 2017



     Lately there have been more and more incidents of coyote engagements in Westchester, as their population grows and their habitat shrinks. The problem is not so easy to deal with, so this is a good time to learn more about coyotes and how to deal with them. Back in the old days, you could just order an anvil from the Acme company and figure out a way for it to drop onto the coyote's head. Alternatively, you could paint a large mural of a roadrunner in front of a cliff and wait for it to break through the mural and fall to its death. But today's times are different and there are probably coyote's rights groups organizing a protest right now.

     Coyotes are most likely to attack at dusk and at dawn. Rarely do they do anything during brunch hours. We hear them sometimes at night, the howling that sounds like a car alarm going off just as the battery is dying. Coyotes howl to affirm their status in the group, or to communicate their presence to other groups. Unlike my dog, who barks incessantly at the sound of a doorbell on TV. If it rings in real life she couldn't care less, but in her defense, the people who ring the doorbells on television are more interesting.

     Coyotes sometimes travel in a pack. You wouldn't have to worry too much if they traveled in the same pack that batteries come in, where I need to get a knife from the kitchen drawer and stab at the plastic like a serial killer until the batteries come spilling out and roll underneath the cabinets, where I have to fish them out all full of dust and small pieces of bacon and little stab wounds from the assault and battery upon the battery. But I'm not going to get off topic and talk about how angry that gets me. Let me just say that if I had a 20 millimeter Vulcan anti-aircraft gun I would line up all the packages of batteries and blast them, if I could be sure that Vulcan anti-aircraft guns don't run on batteries.

     Anyway, the point is that coyotes are rarely interested in picking a fight with people; they are usually involved in territorial disputes with dogs, not humans. For this reason, you should not allow dogs, especially small ones, to run free. How much you should charge them to run is up to you.

     Coyotes are most aggressive during mating season, which runs from January to March. If a coyote hasn't hooked up by April, it may simply be coming to you for advice.

     Experts agree that once coyotes identify you as human, they will avoid engagement with you. Make human noises and try to look as large as possible if confronted by one, and open your coat or hold your backpack above your head.  Do things that only a human would do, so that the coyote is absolutely positive about whom it is dealing with. For instance, take a selfie of yourself salsa dancing during the encounter, or try to explain to the coyote why Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian is worth millions.

     Don't go running around in the woods wearing red cape like Little Red Riding Hood. Isn't that what a bullfighter uses to get the bull all riled up? So if there's a bull out there it's going to find her, the wolf is already penciled in, and with that picnic basket there is going to be an army of ants. There is probably a witch out there too, as if things weren't bad enough. If she thinks this is a recipe for a great day she is living in a fairy tale, let me tell you.